The United States Senate impeachment proceedings against former President Trump have been many things: a contested Truth Commission, a national political reckoning for the history books, a nunca mas (never again).
I was lamenting seeing so little of the Democrats presenting a coherent, detailed case for finding former President Trump guilty of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ when I received an email from my friend in Oregon.
Here’s one perspective from a Democrat voter in a progressive State:
“I have been sitting glued to the TV for about two days watching the House Democrats present the case against Trump and I must say that I was very impressed by the nine House managers, most of them previously prosecutors I suspect, especially Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin the manager. It was an extremely well organized and well-argued case and all in less than two days. Not that anybody used the word 'coup', they did not except that the word slipped out of Jamie Raskin's mouth once. I think the Democrats learned from the previous failed impeachment to keep it short and sweet and forceful. Trump learned from that experience also; unfortunately the lesson he learned was that he could do anything he wanted.
The case made did not rest solely upon the rally and subsequent assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6th. Rather and logically to my mind, the prosecutors returned to the six months prior to the election. You’ll remember before the election actually took place, Trump, supported by Fox News and his followers, kept pushing the idea in hundreds of tweets that the election was 'rigged'. Mark you, this was before anyone actually voted. On election night itself, while votes were still being counted, Trump tweeted at 2:30 am that he had won the election by millions of votes. After the election there were many lawsuits (someone mentioned 62 today) filed by Trump concerning counting of ballots, dead people, boxes of ballots for Biden smuggled in at dead of night and various other nonsense, and they all failed. In some cases a judge just threw the lawsuit out before even hearing it because of the lack of any supporting evidence whatsoever. After a few weeks, in early December, all the states had certified their ballot counts, so then Trump started harassing election officials in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and the like. The family of Raffensberger, the Georgia official who refused to change the election totals to suit Trump, was threatened by armed Trump supporters who turned up at the family house.
So it went on for weeks and weeks with Trump holding more rallies on the theme of 'Stop the Steal', which became the favorite slogan of the Trumpies. There were many threats of violence, not just the ones made and very nearly implemented at the Jan. 6th rally. The irony of all this is that this was not some hidden conspiracy, where all the evidence has to be searched for and assembled, but all took place in plain public view, so it was not difficult for Democrats to collect evidence about Trump's intentions. My personal comment on why nobody was alarmed enough to do anything effective about it: I think by this time everybody was just looking forward to Joe Biden taking over, so most of the mainstream media just ignored what was taking place in Trump-world, suffering from a general Trump fatigue with fresh outrage every day becomes tiring.
So we arrive at the fatal day of Jan.6th, where Trump and his supporters invited any 'patriot' to come to Washington and stop the steal. And in fact people took flights, booked hotels, drove and made their way to Washington by any means they could, often subsidized by a Trump related fund of some kind. I'm sure you have seen videos of the riot in the Capitol, in fact everyone is much too focused on that single event, horrible though it was. An interesting thought is that many Senators had not previously seen the video footage of the riot in full gory detail for the very simple reason that they were part of the event and being hastily hurried off to a safe place. A bit like personally being in an accident, when one is not usually paying much attention to the surroundings. There was a gallows set up outside with signs that said "Hang Mike Pence" (he had told Trump that he could not change the state election results) and a rioter talked about shooting Nancy Pelosi in the head if she could be found. So, as many of the prosecutors have repeated, it is hard to imagine anything worse: if this is not an impeachable offence, what is??
And, if more were needed, the prosecutors detailed the fact that Trump sat in the White House (delighted they say), refused to tell the rioters to stop and did not call in reinforcements for a couple of hours - all a matter of public record.
Yes, Trump has a defence team of lawyers - but definitely a couple from the B team as opposed to the A team who declined to represent Trump and bailed out a few days earlier. On first viewing, one of them got very bad reviews, rambling, disorganized etc. Perhaps it makes no difference and the Senate will not vote to find Trump guilty. This is what most people predict. As the Democrat team points out: "If you do not find Trump guilty, then another future President will feel free to do the same thing again." Which is true of course and one can only hope that the very convincing case presented by the Democrats might change some minds in the Senate”.
Despite defeat the Democrats have achieved important aims. They have told the nation the true story. It’s indelibly on the record. The Republican senators were demonstrably complicit in Trump’s offences. They continue to be so. Seven only voted for conviction. The wily Republican former Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell denounced Trump but voted for acquittal. The majority were never going to admit his guilt because they shared in it. It is more than notable that to avoid the Party splitting and/or a Kamala Harris Presidency they haven’t concluded Trump must be made ineligible to stand again, unable to contest the next Presidential election. Many would have faced deselection at the next Primaries had they done so. They look over their shoulders at the Republican voters for whom belief in and loyalty to Trump was, and remains, paramount. So Trump, diminished, remains a menace to American democracy.
See TheArticle 13/02.2021